Fukushima-made fireworks a no-go due to radiation fears

September 20, 2011

NISSHIN, Aichi Prefecture--City officials here decided to cancel the use of fireworks made in Fukushima Prefecture after a number of residents complained about the possibility of having radiation spewed over their neighborhood.

A fireworks show was held Sept. 18 near the Nisshin city hall and 110,000 people attended.

About 2,000 fireworks were launched, and initial plans called for firing off of fireworks manufactured in Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture.

However, according to the organizing committee, made up of officials of the local chamber of commerce as well as city government officials, about 20 telephone calls and e-mail messages were received from about noon on Sept. 17 asking that the city not use fireworks contaminated with radiation.

The organizing committee decided to cancel the use of Fukushima fireworks because it could not confirm the safety of the pyrotechnics before the show due in part to the fact that it did not have equipment to measure radiation levels. Fireworks manufactured by a company in Aichi Prefecture were used instead.

The fireworks show was resumed last year for the first time in seven years. One theme of this year's show was assisting the rebuilding effort following the Great East Japan Earthquake. Forty-three disaster victims who had moved to Nisshin were invited to sit in special seats and 18 of these invitees attended.

While part of Kawamata has been designated as an area for planned evacuation after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the company that manufactured the fireworks is not located within that area. Moreover, radiation levels within company grounds were well below the standards used in determining if evacuation was necessary.

"Because there were people who had evacuated to the Tokai region, we decided to cooperate because we felt they would be happy to see fireworks from Fukushima," a company official said. "We are disappointed (at the cancellation)."

Meanwhile, according to officials of the Nisshin city government's industrial promotion section, about 50 calls were received on Sept. 19 asking why the Fukushima fireworks were not used and criticizing the decision as being overly sensitive about radiation.

(This article was written by Kazuhiko Maekawa and Hiroki Koizumi.)

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